In Season Five, our little girl grows up. She starts wearing lipstick, gains a cup size and...
... gains a sister, loses a boyfriend, loses a mother and battles a god. Mostly, the season didn't work very well for me, but both Xander and Willow came back to form. Anya became almost likeable. The Willow/Tara relationship is still the only one I actually believe, so it was nice to see Riley go. I utterly don't believe Spike being enamored of Buffy, but within the show it works okay. They hammer Spike enough (sorry) that he comes off almost sympathetic.
The direction in Buffy is not that good except when Whedon takes the helm, and one other. I was going to give Marti Nixon credit for directing a good episode, but I don't see her listed as a director in the fifth season.
Geller is more comfortable in her role as Buffy, and has fun in the fight scenes and makes a good robot, but her strength is still pouting. She's in a coma/shock in several episodes.
The best episode, for me, in the fifth season was The Body, dealing with death by Natural Causes (the name of one of the featurettes on the last DVD) and the attendant normalcy that surrounds a sudden personal tragedy.
My favorite moment in the season was when we find out where Spike got the leather coat he's wearing: It belonged to the second Slayer he killed. The whole Spirit Guide thing with the first Slayer isn't played out well. I can barely believe that Slayers go back to the Australian aborigines, since that means that there was a huuuuuge problem with aborigine vampires. And The Slayer has progressed from "the best of the best" to "chosen for her super powers" which takes it further out of reality.
Glory didn't work for me. A god isn't just an RPG character with high stats. They get to cause floods and rain lightening and such.
The Key was an interesting plot twist that mostly worked, but I had to suspend a LOT of disbelief. 14 is when Buffy became a Slayer, but she's The Kid. Trachenberg is very good as the smart mouthed kid sister, which makes the situation almost believable.
I really like Joel Grey, but I never figured out what his character was supposed to do.
Giles gets the same treatment that Wash gets later, but the less said about that travesty of an episode the better.
A season for fans. If you aren't into the series, you can give this season a pass. I'll probably go on to the last two years, but I have other, more pressing, series to catch up on.